Haley Camp Downplaying Expectations For New Hampshire

Buoyed by rivals falling by the wayside and suddenly becoming the darling of the left-wing media, Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley is still tempering expectations for a strong New Hampshire showing against frontrunning former President Donald Trump.

Her followers heard proclamations for weeks from Granite State Republican Gov. Chris Sununu that she will defeat Trump in the nation’s first primary. In December, Sununu told ABC News that she could win in a “landslide.”

But that came before her dreary third-place finish in the Iowa caucus. Now Haley’s camp is pouring cold water on predictions that she will overtake Trump and gain the momentum that would certainly bring.

Sununu’s optimistic pronouncements continued into January, but his wording changed dramatically after Iowa.

Speaking to ABC News’ Rick Klein on Wednesday, the governor strongly tempered his earlier prognostication. “We always wanted to have a strong second. That’s the only expectation we ever laid out there.”

A Fox News reporter attempted to pin Sununu down on his flip-flop, noting that “it was just a couple of days ago when you predicted victory here for Nikkie Haley.”

The governor stumbled in his response.

He clearly backtracked when he replied, “Look, I think she could win. I’m not predicting anything. I think she can win. “She’s — we’ve already exceeded expectations in terms of a one-on-one race. You know, a strong second is going to be great.”

A notably far cry from predicting a “landslide.” That may be tough in New Hampshire.

University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante J. Scala told Politico that the state will not be an easy nut to crack for Haley. She was unable to finish second in Iowa, which would have given her the narrative of being in a “two-person race.”

Scala noted that Republican “moderates” chose Haley by a wide margin in Iowa, but that’s not the dominant faction of the GOP. And those in the middle, “somewhat conservative” Republicans, largely decide primary outcomes.

Despite her concerted effort, Haley drew only approximately 25% of these voters. On the flip side, Trump carried nearly half in the Hawkeye State.

The expert detailed that roughly 30% of the New Hampshire GOP electorate is moderate or liberal. Enough to demand attention, but not nearly enough to solely depend on for victory.

In fact, self-described conservatives outnumber this faction more than two to one. This should prove too much of a hurdle for Haley to overcome in New Hampshire.